Monday, May 16, 2011

Eric Pickles restores a thousand years of British history

There was a bit of fuss a few weeks ago about which Government departments were flying the EU flag on ‘Europe Day’. While No10, the Treasury and the Foreign Office (all under Conservative rule) resisted, it was observed the Department for Business (under LibDem occupation) surrendered to the higher power. Under David Cameron’s premiership, the symbolism, at least, is clear: the Union flag flies all year round, complemented by the four national flags of the United Kingdom on saints’ days.

Now the indomitable Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has taken things a step further. He has hoisted the flag representing the county of Middlesex above the offices of the Department for Communities and Local Government, to mark ‘Middlesex Day’.

Never heard of it?

No, neither had His Grace until about an hour ago. It commemorates the Battle of Albuera, in which the Middlesex Regiment fought valiantly for King and Country (or ‘the national interest’) precisely 200 years ago today. It is considered one of the bravest acts of chivalry and courage ever witnessed by a regiment of the British army when 'The Diehards' took on and held back the might of Napoleon in the Peninsula Wars.

But the flying of the Middlesex flag is only the beginning. Eric Pickles is sprightly (in spirit) and unflagging (in industry), and has ordered that henceforth all county standards will be displayed alongside the Union flag in order to celebrate the important place counties play in the nation's cultural heritage. They are to be flown for a week at a time in alphabetical order or – in cases such as Cornwall and Yorkshire – to coincide with particular county days.

Mr Pickles said: “England's counties continue to form an important part of our cultural and local identity in this country and many people remain deeply attached to their home county. This sense of pride and shared identity is one of the things that binds communities together. Middlesex retains its place in people's memories and affections, despite attempts to wipe it off the map. The historic English counties are one of the oldest forms of local government in Western Europe. Their roots run deep. And no amount of administrative reshuffling can delete these longstanding and cherished local identities."

Middlesex county campaigner and author of The Real Counties of Great Britain, Russell Grant said: "Middlesex was first founded in Saxon documentation in 704 AD in a geographical description of Twickenham as being in Middlesex. Since local government counties were only created in 1889, it is a pity that over a thousand years of local heritage and national history of our counties, such as Middlesex, is lost because of a lack of a short-lived County Council. Of course, the County of Middlesex – an entirely separate and different entity – continues to exist as it has done for 1300 years, but the lack of understanding of modern media and by-passing of local history in our schools has created an historical and geographical vacuum. We hope, in time, our Government will right the wrongs of previous administrations by protecting the identity and integrity of our counties that are at the very fabric of our English nationhood."

His Grace couldn’t agree more. Observing the The Royal Mail have expunged the county designation from postal addresses; and noting that changes to parliamentary boundaries will take constituencies over county borders for the first time, it is high time that our ancient history was reclaimed. To the ignorant, this is as obscure and otiose as ancient sheep-grazing rights. To those who care about history, culture and identity, it goes to the heart of localism and political sovereignty.

Three cheers (once again [or twice]) for Eric Pickles. The man is doing a superlative job transforming local government: His Grace looks forward to the next Pickles whirlwind (or earth tremor). Actually (though he may not want it), there is probably not a finer man to be Party Chairman.

36 Comments:

Blogger chrishads said...

Really? The point of an address, in the main, is instrumental rather than intrinsic.

16 May 2011 at 12:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thouand years of English History not british surely>

16 May 2011 at 13:43  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I'd be more impressed if Pickles announced the shamefully denied EU Referendum day.

16 May 2011 at 13:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only we could reverse the 1972 county boundary changes.

16 May 2011 at 14:08  
OpenID stephengash said...

I would have preferred more commitment to England by having the English flag flying over all public buildings every day of the year in England. The Scottish flag is seen in Scotland, so we in England demand the same privilege.

Many of these county flags are modern artifices, whereas the Cross of St George represents a thousand years of English (not British) history.

This continual denial of all things English merely increases resentment in England to the Union.

16 May 2011 at 14:09  
Anonymous LCF said...

Mr Pickles is, quite simply, THE MAN! I love him!

I'm afraid I have no further insightful thoughts to offer.

16 May 2011 at 14:09  
Anonymous i albion said...

You Grace this county flag flying thing was tried when Labour wanted Regional Assemblies,for the sole reason to get rid of the English St.George Flag and break England up.
I am suprised you are taken in by it,far braver of Pickles if he had hoisted the English Flag.
But that would have been a step to brave he might have offended......somebody.

16 May 2011 at 15:08  
Blogger English Viking said...

Gnostic,

Hear, hear.

Petty symbolism to assuage the masses.

Pickles is a fat oaf who should not be allowed out on his own.

16 May 2011 at 15:29  
Blogger English Viking said...

PS, Forgot to say, he is a expenses thief as well. Hardly someone to admire.

http://accidents-videos.com/blog/eric-pickles-slo-mo-car-crash-on-mps-expenses/?comments=true

16 May 2011 at 15:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is about remembering the dead of the Army - to their "Immortal Memory". I and many other serving and ex-serving men and women, especially those of the Queens, Buffs, Surreys, Middlesex and Fusiliers, still celebrate his day.

And it's the 200th Anniversary as well, so Well Done Mr Pickles!

16 May 2011 at 15:43  
Anonymous Paul said...

A hat tip to Mr. Pickles...:-)

16 May 2011 at 15:54  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Small steps in the right direction.

16 May 2011 at 16:10  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

No, this post is about BRITISH history: not simply English. The British Isles predate 'Great Britain', and many counties in England, Scotland and Wales are derived from ancient kingdoms of those Isles. Good grief.

16 May 2011 at 16:14  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

SC - Please do not apologise. Nothing further needs to be said.

16 May 2011 at 16:23  
Anonymous Flossie said...

Hurrah! I live in Middlesex, and am fed up with being merely part of 'Greater London'.

16 May 2011 at 16:59  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

I prefer Shires and Hundreds.

I am sure Napoleon can cope with a little flag waving, so long as we pay Europe for the privilage.

16 May 2011 at 17:03  
Anonymous Sandy Jamieson said...

The 1/7th Battalion The Middlesex Regiment "The Die Hards" were the Machine-Gun Battalion attached to the 51st Highland Division from St.Valery through to the Rhine Crossing via Alamein, Sicily and St.Valery again. The Regiment became accepted as one of the Highlander's family

16 May 2011 at 17:50  
Blogger Alasdair said...

Any supporters of our historic counties may wish to join the Association of British Counties, who are "dedicated to promoting awareness of the continuing importance of the 92 historic (or traditional) Counties of the United Kingdom". http://www.abcounties.co.uk/

16 May 2011 at 18:46  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

I totally agree with stevengash, and would take things a stage further and make it an obligation for at least one (on a rota basis) of our MPs to attend every repatriation of wounded or deceased military personnel. On the tarmac - whatever the weather - date or time.
The muttered and meaningless expressions of condolence are an insulting in their detached insincerity, as exhibited during PMQs. The service people are the true patriots and protectors of this land and culture, they deserve open recognition on as many occaisions as exhibited by the proud people of Royal Wooton Basset. Suchan act would serve as a constant reminderto the nation and Parliament of the morality in despatching our troops simply on the basis of the whip system.

Keep up the good work SG.

16 May 2011 at 19:58  
Blogger cornubian said...

Just to point out that Cornwall (Cornubia, Kernow, Cornwallia) has existed for longer than England. It is one of the Six Celtic nations and has a de jure constitutional status quite different to that of a shire county of England.

Read more here: “A Mysterious, Arcane and Unique Corner of our Constitution”: The Laws Relating to the Duchy of Cornwall (pdf): http://www.research.plymouth.ac.uk/plr/vol3/Kirkhope.pdf

16 May 2011 at 19:59  
Blogger cornubian said...

Equally if the Tories are so keen on "British Counties" why have they forced a Devonwall parliamentary constituency on Cornwall via their gerrymandering? With this thoughtless and uncaring act they have damaged Cornwall's ancient territorial integrity.

16 May 2011 at 20:02  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace, your communicant despairs.

Surely the aim of any local government reform is to improve delivery of those services devolved to localities by the central government. Re-igniting ancient tribal allegiancies plays into the hands of EU manipulators who love non-viable political entities, which give them an opportunity to provide viability.

Transport, lpgistics and means of communication have all improved somewhat since the 'Dark Ages' and local government must reflect this. It is sentimental rubbish to do otherwise. All aspects of governance must be improved in order to cut costs and reduce debt. It essential to strengthen the British state, in preparation for independence.

The alternative will be a State Visit by His Excellency the President of the European Union, Herman van Rumpuy. Recently knighted by HM Queen he will be conveyed with her in a coach with a sovereign's escort of the Household Cavalry to the Houses of Parliament. There to stand beside her in place of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh as she reads the Queens Speech at the Opening of Parliament.

You have been warned.

16 May 2011 at 21:36  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Dreadnaught said...

16 May 2011 19:58

I agree that they should be made to attend, and with your sentiment.

However.

They are not protecting us for many reasons, the most obvious one being, is that no one can, if that is, an out of control International terrorist group seriously intended to do us real harm.

Even if 9/11 and 7/7 were not in some ways inside jobs, which they were most surly with most evidential knobs on, our violently inclined presence in the Middle-East would still not be justified after such a long period.

I give you this food for thought, so please try thinking.

Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. The entire second world war was done and dusted less then six years later. ( I cannot personally confirm this, as I was not there, not even being a twinkle in my mothers eye in 1945. However for the sake of argument I will assume that the above dates are true facts.)

Yet it would seem that the combined efforts of two, indeed 8 modern allied armies, with a technological superiority that makes that presiding during The Zulu conflict look like a 1st division football league play-off final, has no prospect of actually winning anything after 10 whole years.

( again for the sake of argument I shall work on the most dangerous assumption that my history books are not entirely works of fiction)

Does this sound at all possible, or even remotely probable to you, unless the powers that really be,very much planned it to be this way?

These armies were supposed to oppose The Red Army and all that goes with it. The Red Army on their part, apparently believed that their own forces were inferior to that of the NATO both technologically and in terms of training. Otherwise we were told that they would have tried to invade Western Europe at any time of their own choosing.

Did you lot not know this, or did you simply forget the lies you have already been told? I know 20 years is a long time ago, but it is not so long ago, you could have forgotten completely.

We were either being told whopping big time lies then, or we are being told ever more big time lies now, or far more likely we were being told whopping big time lies then, as well as ever more big time lies now.

Therefore why do you believe what you are told today, when you have so obviously been lied to in the past by the exact same establishment that told you all of the last lot of incredibly expensive lies?

IMO The Soviet people were far smarter then we have ever been. For at least hardly any of them believed the BS their own establishment told them after far less then 70 years. We on the other hand seem to be unable to learn from our own experience, however many years we have personally endured it.

16 May 2011 at 21:43  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Contemplating your graces post ,I had pangs of realising ,how little regard had been given to counties ,right from 97 onwards we had the regional commities (all no doubt for new era EU carve up) ,We were told these super beaurocies would enable better strategic planning (for whom I never was told).

Flag flying is a perhaps a small step , of course the EU regions would have no historical meaning which is all too franfurt school to contemplate.

It is reminder of how politics can be an ever hungry beast , removing a persons connections and local narrative/history , for no good reason.

It is more than trifling restoration ,to give people some relevant democracy back or even to remind some symbol of the need not to run rotten boroughs or counties .Well done Mr Pickles .

16 May 2011 at 21:46  
Anonymous Red Admiral said...

Erm, at Albuera strictly the hordes of Marshal Soult, not Napoleon, but I get your drift.

16 May 2011 at 21:53  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

What's the probability that some pro-Euro MP will try to stop it, possibly on the grounds of the cost of all the flags, or someone will use Health and Safety to show the flag pole is unsafe?

17 May 2011 at 00:12  
Anonymous MrJ said...

bluedog 16 May 21:36 "...EU manipulators who love non-viable political entities, which give them an opportunity to provide viability."

Behind any meretricious flagwaving, what is happening?

Let it never be forgot that one of the major manipulative operations is the Supergrid electricity transmission system to be mainly based on direct current: "... EU Energy Summit on the 4th February [2011] explicitly recognise the need to build new electricity infrastructure in the EU to reach the 2020 goals in terms of energy efficiency, emissions reductions, increase of RES use, creation of a single electricity market and security of supply." (source: http://www.friendsofthesupergrid.eu/news-view.aspx?newsID=24)

Of course, not all flagwaving is unworthy.

17 May 2011 at 00:24  
Anonymous non mouse said...

So the man from Elmet champions the land of the Middle Saxons! The alliance has potential, and is in an ancient tradition - if it can be successfully turned against our common enemy. Better still that Middlesex Day commemorates a euro name - one that symbolizes independence from frogules.

Perhaps the White Rose might also work powerfully in terms of a united front --.

I'm among those who'd like to see retroversion to pre-'72 toponymy, though. Oh - and I favour Ridings and County Boroughs. So yes, YG -- much appreciate the principle you quote from Mr. Grant:
We hope, in time, our Government will right the wrongs of previous administrations by protecting the identity and integrity of our counties that are at the very fabric of our English nationhood. Indeed, I hope we may now aim for re-constitution of Britain.

17 May 2011 at 00:52  
OpenID britologywatch said...

Your Grace, Do you know whether Mr Pickles will be flying the flag of other late lamented counties such as Huntingdonshire? And will he be flying the flags - if they exist - of unitary authorities; or does his commitment to localism not extend to those?

And if, as you say, this is about celebrating the historic counties of the British Isles, will Mr Pickles be including the counties of Ireland (Republic as well as Northern Ireland) in his flag-flying rota? And what about flying the flag of St. George, given that Mr Pickles' department's responsibilities relate to England alone? Notwithstanding your point that this is about celebrating 1000 years of British, rather than English, history, as Mr Pickles' department is an English, not British, one, why doesn't he display a bit of concern for the historic nation whose local government he is responsible for, as well as those local-government units themselves (or a random selection of them, ancient and modern)?

Mr Pickles is an oaf!

17 May 2011 at 07:40  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Atlast Shrugged said "They are not protecting us for many reasons, the most obvious one being, is that no one can ....... Why should that be obvious?

This rambling and incoherent post of yours indicates it is you who should 'try thinking' then perhaps your points may have some relevance or semblance of comprehension.

May I suggest a reality check for you.. and invite you to attend the Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph and seek out a few old (and younger) sweats who will be only to put you straight.

17 May 2011 at 08:39  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

We heard not a murmur when mrs winsor ABOLISHED the counties,this is just to give credence to his own existence by appearing in the "newspaper",he seems to have gone off the rails ever since "take your pick" finished.

17 May 2011 at 09:27  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Reminds me of the time someone told me how faceless and drab the place(Middlesex) was.

17 May 2011 at 10:26  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Cranmer said

To the ignorant, this is as obscure and otiose as ancient sheep-grazing rights. To those who care about history, culture and identity, it goes to the heart of localism and political sovereignty.

There is a balance to be struck between looking back and looking forward. The arrogance of planners and architects in the 60’s and 70’s that blighted many of our cities by destroying older communities and buildings was disastrous but preserving everything simply because it is old is equally unhealthy.

History, culture and identity are important in order to preserve social cohesion and national pride and regrettably ignorance of them is apparent in many younger people. However I don’t think flying local flags is going to help; this is just a meaningless gesture by a politician on the make.

Knowledge of our own history can only really be acquired at school and whilst I think it should be taught honestly, warts and all, we should not allow political correctness to require us to constantly apologise for past actions. Nor should we shy away from pride in our own culture or comparing it with others.

A sense of national identity is difficult to inculcate and it manifests itself in separate strands. For some it is Christianity, royalty and heritage, for others it may be sport or culture. It can come from intellectual and scientific achievements or our legal and political system or of course from a mix of all these and other things.

Thankfully within most local communities are groups of people willing to get of their backsides in order to keep their communities and the assets that they contain in good order. This is localism; symbols like flags are simply no substitute.

17 May 2011 at 10:37  
Anonymous MrJ said...

"Knowledge of our own history can only really be acquired at school ..." (Graham Davis 17 May 10:37).

Would that something memorable about the ancient shires and counties had been included in "1066 and All That". The educated classes (including the likes of WEA students) would have been less vulnerable to the Pickles delusion.

17 May 2011 at 11:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make a point of adding the county to every address, not just town and postcode.

18 May 2011 at 08:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flying any suitable flag other than the ghastly EU one is to be encouraged, surely? It is not so much the flag itself which is important, but the actual act of defiance and two-fingers to the EU.

My county was split in two many years ago to create the county of Avon....which is now North Somerset. The name "Avon" still persists on business databases but it is dead.
I always put a county name on my letters, even though the Post Office ignores it; again, another act of defiance. The more, the better.

18 May 2011 at 09:09  

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